Games Webinar This Thursday

Hey, friends!

I just wanted to drop you a quick note and let you know that I’ll be a contributor on a webinar put on by The Francis Clark Center this Thursday, May 21 @ 11:00 a.m. EDT.

Our topic will be focused on games during online teaching. Other contributors include Nicola Cantan, Joy Morin, Christina Whitlock, and Melissa Willis. What a great crew and I’m honored to get the chance to be a part!

I’m guessing you know most of these ladies but if you don’t, here’s a little about each one:

Nicola Cantan writes at, Joy Morin writes at, Christina Whitlock is author of our awesome Varsity Musician Series here on PP and Melissa Willis has been really active in Facebook teacher groups sharing her online teaching tips on YouTube since this all started.

Can I give you a sneak peek? I plan to share a tip for keeping all of those games organized. It’s me – you know I can’t resist!

You can either register for the webinar ahead of time or view the replay later by visiting this link.

Hope to see you there!


Friday Finds #179

Tacos, Tacos, Tacos!

Happy weekend, friends! Here’s is my humble list of recommendations for the week:


Do you love tacos or anything Mexican food as I do? You might enjoy the documentary Taco Chronicles on Netflix.

I’m not a big documentary person but have been fascinated by this one. I learned about several different styles of tacos and some I had never even heard of like Tacos de Canasta (the “basket” taco). (Just a heads up it’s in Spanish with subtitles, but that makes it even more authentic!)



Should online lessons be cheaper? (Samantha Coates | Blitz! Books)



Digital access to Faber’s Piano Adventures.



The Piano Safari Stuffed Animal Shopping Guide is one of the top posts here on Piano Pantry. The favorite animal that’s purchased?

This super cute Stuffed Kangaroo from Wild Republic. Is he adorable?!



A short and enlightening peek into bad times in the American economy and how it has always recovered. Take heart – all will be well!

A Brief History of Market Crashes (Carl Engelking | Northwestern Mutual)



Tips for Disinfecting a Phone (Olivia Muenter | The Kitchn)



Can you believe I’m lucky enough to have neighbors that grow both asparagus and rhubarb? Counting my blessings on that one! I shared favorite asparagus recipes recently so here are a couple of Rhubarb ones we’re enjoyed:

Rhubarb Custard Pie (Simply Recipes)

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp (Jesse Szewczyk } The Kitchn)

Don’t let anyone fool you – strawberries aren’t the only thing that goes well with Rhubarb. I used blueberries in this recipe and it was absolutely delicious!



Me too: Four Reasons We Chose Carpet for Our Bedrooms (The Wood Grain Cottage)



Studio Awards Update (Including Some Awesome Trophies!) (Piano Pantry)



Podcast: The Enneagram Journey with singer Audrey Assad


The One-Minute Club Goes Virtual

One of the top posts here on Piano Pantry is the One-Minute Club Note-Naming Challenge.

Recently, I went through a bit of an overhaul of my own program and in the process did a big update to the original blog post.

If you use this challenge, even if you’ve read the original post before, you’re going to want to check it out again as it now includes 7 small but really great tips to help ease nerves during the timing and help foster the best results in students.

Read the Original Post: One-Minute Club Note-Naming Challenge

Here we are, four years from the first time we talked about this studio-wide challenge, and every teacher around the world has suddenly been thrown into online teaching like we never expected.

So, today, let’s talk about a few different ways we can adapt this challenge to our online lessons including the pros and cons of each format!

Continue reading

Friday Finds #178

The First Week of May (Yea!)

Are you as excited as I am to have May turn the corner? The weather has been beautiful and the school-year term of lessons is wrapping up.

If you’re like me, that means that the next two weeks won’t be necessarily less work, but just a slightly different schedule and routine with group classes, Zoom recital prep, end-of-year evaluation meetings, and more.

A change of routine is something that I always welcome with open arms and an eager attitude.

May, we’re so glad you’re here!


Rebekah has several great tips in this post that helped me in my planning!

Zoom Recital: 5 Tips and Strategies (Rebekah Maxner)



My students and I have been hard at work during our Zoom lessons with the One-Minute Club Note-Naming Challenge. I recently did an update to the original post including seven really great tips on conducting this challenge.



Are you passionate about music education? Consider voting to help make this product idea a reality: A Lego Symphony Orchestra (Natalie Weber | Music Matters Blog)



Asparagus season is here! Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan (Damn Delicious)



I have two splatter screens (both recommended by ATK, of course!). It’s actually quite useful having two different styles.

Believe it or not, the strange-looking one actually does work well (as long as you put it in the right size/style fry pan).




A Flying Photographer Looks Down on the Earth in Awe and Sorrow (Pranav Baskar | NPR)



Is Tonara Worth the Effort? (Leila Viss)



A limited time freebie from composer Chrissy Ricker.



Coronavirus Etude for Piano and Disinfecting Wipe (Jeff DePaoli)



Friday Finds #177

Zoom Fatigue

A few weeks ago, I shared with you the emotional roller coaster I had been going through that week with online lessons to the point that by Thursday I almost had a full-blown panic attack.

While things subsided pretty quickly (especially thanks to upgrading our wimpy internet router to a small commercial-grade one), my body and mind are still frequently fighting small instances of this a couple of times a week.

Luckily, I’ve had the wherewithal to recognize when it’s happening and act. How have I tackled it?

First, be aware that it’s happening.

Second, DO something.  Mostly, I make immediate attempts to go on a LONG walk, take a drive, or busy my mind doing something else – the first one being the best.

I’m not telling this so you feel sorry for me. I just want you to know that if you’re experiencing these things, it’s OK because you’re not the only one! In all honesty, I don’t mind online lessons and even enjoy them at times.

The first find I share with you in this week’s list I think will shed some light on what many of us are experiencing. 

Mainly, I’ve learned that awareness, acknowledgment, and action some of the best principles we can apply to not only managing stress but other areas of life as well!

How are you dealing with little inklings of stress/anxiety that you may be experiencing?

Take care of yourself and enjoy this week’s finds!



‘Zoom fatigue’ is taxing the brain. Here’s why that happens. Video calls seemed an elegant solution to remote work, but they wear on the psyche in complicated ways. (Julia Skylar | National Geographic)



Looking for a better weather app? I highly recommend spending the few dollars to get Dark Sky. Both my husband and I have been using the basic Apple weather app and also Weather Underground for a while. The most recent update to the latter, however, made us finally give up for good. It was just way too complicated and unintuitive to use. Dark Sky is super simple while being visually pleasing and informative. Highly recommended! We both approve!



Thoughts on “I’m Bored.” (Seth Godin)



I’m really loving Susan Paradis’ post on having a “Group Chat” recital. Low-key, small, and uncomplicated. Her tips are really great as well!



Indiana University rents 80 digital pianos from a local piano store to distribute to their piano majors.



Food-themed good news from John Krasinski’s “Some Good News” series.



Homemade Kombucha? That would be fun to try!



7 Funny Cartoons About the Oil Price Crash (The Week)



Best Countertop Compost Bins for Most Home Cooks (Lisa Freedman | The Kitchn)



14 Achievable Tasks to Help Declutter Your Home While Safe Inside (Joshua Becker | Becoming Minimalist)


Friday Finds #176

Who Won the Giveaway?

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway from Friday Finds #175! I’m pleased to say we had a record number of entries.

The winner is… Belinda Glass!

Congratulations! I’ve already dropped you an email (so check your inbox). Your choice copy, The Victress Sessions will be sent directly to your door. I hope you and your students enjoy this book!



Finding Comfort and Calm in Remote Teaching  (Santa Barbara Independent)



Freedom, Adjustment, Grief, and Online Teaching (Deborah Rambo Sinn)



Some incredible photos of the toll the Coronavirus has taken.

Bravo to the photographers who are catching this time in our history in a sad and yet incredibly artistic way. It’s impactful. (The Atlantic)



There’s a reason there’s still a dry yeast shortage. The Yeast Supply Chain Can’t Just Activate Itself. (Aaron Mark | Slate)



Oh, this is absolutely cracking me up! Have you seen this one yet? We all could use a little laugh – you just have to watch this!

A music teacher creates a song to sum up how she feels about online teaching.



We’re a little over a month into spring and I’ve pulled out all my favorite recipes that involve Spring veggies (especially asparagus and peas). One of my favorites is this Chicken and Sugar Snap Pea Stir-Fry from Williams Sonoma.

Other fav’s include:

Snow Pea-Radish Slaw (Food Network Magazine)

Lemon-Parm Sole with Arugala Salad (Rachel Ray)

Asparagus, Ham, and Goat Cheese Quiche (Wives with Knives)

One pound of asparagus almost feels like too much. Go for 1/2 – 3/4 pound.

Skillet Cod with Lemon and Capers (The Kitchn)

Jacques Pépin’s Pan-Crisped Deviled Eggs (Joy the Baker)

I can’t vouch for these last two as they’re on my “to-make list”. I have high-hopes though. I mean, Pan-Crisped Deviled Eggs?! It can’t get better than that!



On predicting the future. (Seth Godin)



Oil Prices Hit 34-Year Lows as Demand Disappears (NPR)



My Best Online Teaching Tips (Samantha Coates | Blitz Books)



Finding a Silver Lining in COVID-19 (Joe Darago | Becoming Minimalist)



My husband is the chocaholic in our family. He loves all things chocolate/fudge. I’m pretty sure he would go crazy over this Double Chocolate Fudge-Stuffed Loaf Cake. Maybe I’ll make it for his birthday in May.


Which of these finds did you find most useful for where you’re at this week?


Book Review – Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

Do you have a stack of books you purchased (like two years ago) that you’re excited to read but never seem to get the time?

Yeah, me too.

Today I’m soooo excited I can finally share thoughts from one of those books in my stack:

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

I first heard about Originals when current MTNA President-Elect, Karen Thickstun, did a presentation inspired by it at MTNA Spokane 2019 (The Curious Careers of “Originals” and Independent Music Teachers).

Since I’ve always considered myself somewhat of an “original”, my curiosity was piqued and I immediately threw it into my Amazon cart.

In this post, I’ll share brief thoughts on why I love this book, why this non-piano-teaching book can still inspire us in our profession, and a few key-quotes.


Why I Enjoyed It and You May Too

The biggest reason why I love this book is that the author, Adam Grant, manages to take what could be boring case studies and research and presents it in an engaging story-driven manner. You’ll read about anyone from Michelangelo to George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., and (of course), Steve Jobs.

He often debunks common misconceptions about what it means to be a purveyor of change. In eight chapters he covers:

  1. The risky business of going against the grain
  2. The art and science of recognizing original ideas
  3. Speaking truth to power
  4. Strategic procrastination, and the first-mover disadvantage
  5. Creating and maintaining coalitions
  6. How siblings, parents, and mentors nurture originality
  7. The myths of strong cultures, cults, and devil’s advocates
  8. Managing anxiety, apathy, ambivalence, and anger

Often times books give us all of this great information then you’re left trying to figure out for yourself what to do with that information or how to apply it to your situation.

Adam Grant has you covered. At the end of this book, he has an entire section titled “Actions for Impact.” He goes the extra mile and gives you practical applications. Broken into three areas they are:

  1. Actions for individuals to generate, recognize, voice, and champion new ideas
  2. Actions for leaders to stimulate novel ideas and build cultures that welcome dissent.
  3. Recommendations for parents and teachers to help children become comfortable taking a creative or moral stand against the status quo

If you consider yourself an original “thinker” and love growing, learning, and thinking outside the box or you’re looking to grow a music studio and need inspiration for what it means to be a non-conformist, then this book is for you.  


Taking Application as Studio Teachers

It really is true that no matter what our profession is, we can learn so much from other areas of life that apply to what we do on a daily basis. This is one of those books.

One of the biggest points I took away as a teacher came out of chapter six where he’s addressing how siblings, parents, and teachers can literally mentor originality – it doesn’t just have to be innate. 

By explaining moral principles, parents encourage their children to comply voluntarily with rules that align with important values and to question rules that don’t. Good explanations enable children to develop a code of ethics that often coincides with societal expectations; when they don’t square up, children rely on the internal compass of values rather than the external compass of rules. (Page 165)

He also discussed the importance of highlighting how what we do affects others. Here are a few examples (pages 170, 169, 166 respectively):

Not this: “Don’t drink and drive.”
But this: “Don’t be a drunk driver.”

Not this: “Please don’t cheat.”
But this: “Please don’t be a cheater.”

Not this: “Hand hygiene prevents you from catching diseases.”
But this: “Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases.”

(The last one is, of course, an ironic example at this point in our history. LOL.)

Children were found to do better when having their character praised rather than simply having their behavior praised.

So, as a teacher perhaps one quick example we could reword would be something like this:

Not this: “That was very creative.”
But this: “You are very creative.”

P.S. I would love for us to all share some examples of how we can turn our praise from behavior to character in the comments!


9 Key Quote(s):

I’m sorry, I was really hoping to share just 2 or 3 but I just couldn’t cut them down!

“The hallmark of originality is rejecting the default and exploring whether a better option exists.” (Page 7)

“Advocating for a new system often requires demolishing the old way of doing things.” (Page 13)

“They [originals] feel the same fear, the same doubt, as the rest of us. What sets them apart is that they take action anyway. They know in their hearts that failing would yield less regret than failing to try.” (Page 28)

“When we bemoan the lack of originality in the world, we blame it on the absence of creativity. If only people could generate more novel ideas, we’d all be better off. But in reality, the biggest barrier to originality is not idea generation—it’s idea selection.” (Page 31)

“It’s widely assumed that there’s a trade-off between quantity and quality—if you want to do better work, you have to do less of it—but this turns out to be false. In fact, when it comes to idea generation, quantity is the most predictable path to quality.” (Page 37)

“Many people fail to achieve originality because they generate a few ideas and then obsess about refining them to perfection.” (Page 37)

“Exposure increases the ease of processing. An unfamiliar idea requires more effort to understand. The more we see, hear, and touch it, the more comfortable we become with it, and the less threatening it is.” (Page 78)

“Being original doesn’t require being first. It just means being different and better.” (Page 105)

“In the quest for happiness, many of us choose to enjoy the world as it is. Originals embrace the uphill battle, striving to make the world what it could be.” (Page 242)


I hope you will find this book an interesting and inspiring read as I did! You and find it on Amazon or any other place that sells books! 🙂


Did you find this post helpful? Consider subscribing to the Piano Pantry email list where you’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, books I’m reading, favorite Instagram posts, and other fun things like that. 

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Friday Finds #175

Best-of (and a Giveaway!)

Hello friends and welcome to Friday Finds 175!

Today we are celebrating the best-of-the-best finds from the past 24 posts – from #151 to #174.

As usual, in celebration of a milestone, there will be a giveaway at the end. Woot, woot!

What is it, you ask?

I’ll be giving away 1 copy of “The Sessions” book – you choose which book you would like!

My only rule for myself is that this post would contain no more than 25 of the best items from these past weeks.

In order for an item to make the top 25, it had either to still be quite interesting or something that I absolutely love. It also had to hold value for us both now and in the future. In other words, is the item (fairly) timeless?

I’ve broken them down into a few categories to make it easier to consume.

Continue reading

Book Review – Discovering Music from the Inside Out: An Autobiography by Edwin E. Gordon

Are you interested in music education?

If so, you may consider adding Discovering Music from the Inside Out: An Autobiography by Edwin E. Gordon to your reading list.

In this review, I’ll briefly share why I love this book, a few key quotes, and some fun and interesting facts. 

In this autobiography, Dr. Gordon (1927-2015) shares his journey as a musician, music educator, and researcher. Through these experiences and influences, he began to question how music is conventionally taught, ultimately leading him to become the “founding father” of Music Learning Theory (MLT).

If you’re looking to learn more about Music Learning Theory, then this book should be one of the first books you grab. Hearing Dr. Gordon talk about his own experiences and thought-process that brought him to research more deeply how we learn music is a lovely soft primer into what can often feel like the “daunting” world of MLT.

That being said, I strongly believe that you don’t have to be interested in MLT or even necessarily enjoy autobiographies for this book to be a really good choice.

Anyone who is simply a curious music educator will find his journey inspiring, thought-provoking, and even relatable.

I found it to be quite a delightful read and loved that it was an easily-consumable 130 pages.


Key quote:

Teaching is from the outside in whereas learning is from the inside out. (Page 102)

Continue reading

Friday Finds #174

Good Friday

Hello dear friends and happy Good Friday!


Wasn’t it just New Years’ day yesterday? *rapidly shaking head like a wet dog shakes its tail*

Yep, and yet here we are. Before we know it this will all be over and we will be enjoying the shining rays, fireworks, and freedom of Summer (we pray).

But before that…next week we’ll be celebrating Friday  Finds #175 here on Piano Pantry!

Time flies when you’re having fun (or in our current case, time flies even when you’re not having fun).

Our first milestone was the big #100 where I highlighted the top 100 finds. We also celebrated at #150.

Experience has taught me that it’s a lot of work to scour through 50-100 posts to look for the best-of-the-best, so from now on every 25 posts, I’m going to do a “best of” kick-back celebration.

Stay tuned for next week!



35% off method books?! Wow! (



Piano Adventures can be purchased digitally! Find it on Kindle, Google Play, and iBooks. Another option is to use the Piano Adventures Player app and pay $4.99 per level. The grapevine says these don’t include title names, dynamics or fingers though so just FYI). (Credit to Ally Santos who shared this on Piano Teacher Central!)



What I’ve learned from living a socially isolated life for the past two years (Amanda Chicago Lewis | Curbed)



Recently, I’ve rediscovered two childhood loves:  Minesweepers and Nilla Wafers.



An Easter playlist on Spotify made by me, myself, and I.



I’ve been loving having bananas in my freezer at all times lately but they’re a mess to defrost when you freeze them with the skins on. I was just thinking I needed a new way when I came across this: The Best Way to Freeze Bananas for Smoothies and Baking (Kelli Foster | The Kitchen). I did it and it’s true!



Should We Throw Our Piano Policies out the Window Now? (Wendy Stevens | Compose Create)



Alfred Student HymnalOne of my favorite hymn books for piano students:

The Piano Student’s Hymnal





Passion Week Visualized (including an hour-by-hour timeline for Good Friday) (Bible Gateway)



Healthy Snacks for Long Teaching Days (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)